Overnight visits must take place overnight in order to be used in a claim for parenting time credit under the child support guidelines, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court Aug. 19.
In Marla K. Young v. Timothy S. Young, No. 09S05-0803-CV-136, the high court addressed whether evening visits could be credited as overnight visits when calculating child support. Timothy Young was awarded 104 overnights, including 52 which were for two additional evenings per week he spent with their kids.
But evening visits shouldn’t count toward parenting time credit, the high court ruled, citing the Child Support Guidelines commentary explaining the term “overnight.”
Neither the comment, nor any other part of the guideline, suggests that a term can be credited as overnight when the child doesn’t actually stay overnight with the parent, wrote Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
“If the able and careful drafters of the guidelines had intended for non-overnight visits in which the noncustodial parent provides the children with transportation from school and to and from their activities, feeds them, and does homework with them to qualify for parenting time credit, the guidelines could have easily included those visits in the formula,” he wrote.
The trial court erred in using Timothy’s adjusted gross income figures from his tax returns without examining the deductions when calculating his child support obligation. His adjusted gross figure includes a deduction of money he invested into his retirement account, which doesn’t qualify as an ordinary and necessary business expense that can be deducted when determining child support, wrote the chief justice.
The trial court shouldn’t have included deductions for redemption of Marla Young’s interest in their partnership, which she received as part of their property settlement. Plus, the court allowed all of the depreciation Timothy deducted on his tax returns to be deducted from his income for child support purposes without determining if the depreciation was appropriate, Chief Justice Shepard wrote.
In addition, payments under a property settlement Timothy made to Marla shouldn’t be included in child support calculations because Timothy would receive a double benefit because not only does he own the property now, but he also would be allowed to receive a deduction for it.
“Just as the guidelines disallow deductions for payments made to former spouses as part of a property settlement, even if those payments were classified as maintenance by the parties, so too do we disallow deductions for property settlements made between a child’s parents,” wrote the chief justice.
The Supreme Court remanded with direction to reexamine the child support order in respect to these three issues.